The story below is a work of gay fiction and is the property of the author. Don’t read it if you dislike the subject matter or are too young. Comments are welcome. John Tucker

EMPIRE Chapter 5

A dimly lit street, Salt Lake City Street, Sunday evening

Tyler pulled quickly to the curb, shutting off the engine of the rental car, but leaving the lights burning. He jumped out from the driver’s seat and quickly rounded the auto to where the two youths had fallen to the sidewalk.

Kneeling quickly, he asked the uninjured youth, “What happened?”

“I’m not sure sir,” Carl answered. “It was dark and I was sitting in an alley when a red truck pulled up and dumped something out, then drove off. I went over to see what they had left and I found this guy. I was going to call for an ambulance, but he begged me to help him get home. We made it this far, then my strength gave out and we fell.”

“Let me look at him,” Tyler ordered.

The boy slowly released the injured young man’s arm from around his neck and lowered his upper body to the concrete.

“Can you hear me?” Tyler asked the injured youth.

The youth’s eyes flickered. “Please take me home,” Nathan pleaded.

“You’re badly injured,” Tyler answered. “You need to go to a hospital.”

Nathan became excited, and croaked out a plea of “No, no! I’ll be okay! Please, just get me home!”

“Where do you live?” Tyler said doubtfully.

“317 Elm, Unit 6,” came Nathan’s belabored reply.

“I’ll agree to take you there,” Tyler replied, “but if I think your wounds are life-threatening or if I think you might suffer permanent injury, you’re going to a hospital, like it or not.”

Tyler knew from studying the map earlier that the address should be only a block or two away. He got up, opened the front seat of the car, scooped the injured youth up and deposited him in the front seat of the rental car.

Looking at the uninjured young man he ordered, “Get in the back.”

“Uh, I don’t really know this guy,” Carl replied.

“Do you live around here?” Tyler asked.

“Uh, I don’t have a place right now,” Carl answered, looking down, embarrassed.

“Get in,” Tyler repeated.

Carl grabbed his small bag, opened the rear door and climbed into the car as Tyler resumed his place at the wheel.

“I may need your help to get him into his place,” Tyler said to his rear seat passenger. “I think it’s nearby.”

Tyler turned on the dome light, grabbed his folded map, looked at it, then satisfied, snapped off the light and started the car. Putting it into gear he stepped on the accelerator and the car again began to move. Two minutes later he spotted the building address, and turned the car into the run-down complex’s parking lot. He drove slowly along the buildings until he spotted the unit he was searching for, then pulled into a nearby parking space. Again turning off the ignition and this time also the lights, Tyler exited the vehicle and circled to the opposite side as Carl stepped out of the rear door to assist. He opened the front passenger door just as Tyler arrived and stepped back as Tyler squatted down beside the injured young man.

“Where are your keys?” Tyler asked.

“…Pocket...” Nathan managed to gasp.

Tyler reached into the nearest front pocket of the youth’s torn and dirty Dockers, and found two keys on a small ring. Extracting them, he handed them to Carl.

“Open the door and hold it open. I’ll take care of this guy,” he directed.

Tyler again cradled the injured youth in his arms and lifted him from the car, rising up into an erect stance. He turned and saw the opened doorway and a light that Carl had snapped on, giving illumination to the interior of the small unit. As Tyler entered carrying Nathan, he said, “Close the car door, would you? Then come in.”

Carl complied with Tyler’s request while the muscular security man stepped to a bed in the corner of the room and deposited Nathan upon it. He snapped on another light next to the bed and began to remove Nathan’s shoes. Carl now had returned and stood, waiting for Tyler’s next command.

“Go in the bathroom and see if you can find a clean washcloth and towel, then go into the kitchen and get me a pan or large bowl of hot water. I’ll need some hand soap too if you can find some.”

“Yes sir,” Carl responded and began to move.

The room was warm so Tyler held Nathan up and removed his jacket, tossing it aside. He then lay the young man back down and began to unbuckle his belt and unfasten the button and zipper. Working the pants down below the youths butt, he pulled them off, exposing legs that were badly bruised. He began to feel Nathan’s legs near the injuries, looking for fractures. Nathan groaned loudly as Tyler pressed against the injured flesh. Finding no obvious breaks, he looked up as Carl returned with the requested objects.

“Put the things down on the end table,” he ordered, “and help me get his shirt off.”

Tyler unbuttoned the injured youth’s shirt. “I’ll hold him up and you slip the shirt and tee shirt off”, he told Carl.

After a couple minutes’ work the youth again was laid back on the bed, now dressed only in his boxer briefs. Examining Nathan’s upper torso Tyler could find no obvious broken bones, only some minor lacerations and bruised areas that were beginning to swell and discolor. In his examination Tyler noticed several bruises on the upper thighs and abdomen of the youth that disappeared beneath the cloth of the undergarment. He pulled the elastic up from Nathan’s waist and looked underneath. The swollen black and purple testicles revealed the main target of the attack. He lowered the waistband to its former position, and then gently shook the youth’s shoulder. Nathan again opened his eyes.

“I’m sorry son,” Tyler said. “You need some expert medical help.”

“No!” Nathan responded as he eyes filled with tears. “Just leave me. I’ll be all right. Please! I can’t afford a hospital.”

Tyler paused a moment, thinking.

“Let’s get you cleaned up a little,” he told the youth. “Then if you can walk, I’ll take you to a quick-care facility. They can examine you. If they say you need to be hospitalized, then that’s what will happen. But if you’re just bruised and battered, I’ll bring you back here. Don’t worry about the cost. I’ll handle that. It’s the best I can offer.”

Tyler waited for an answer.

“Okay,” Nathan replied with obvious reluctance. “I think I can walk if I can just rest for a few minutes.”

“Alright,” Tyler said grabbing the washcloth and lathering it up with soap. “We’ll give it a try. If you can’t walk, I’ll take you directly to a hospital.” He began to carefully clean up the youth avoiding wherever possible the most bruised areas, but carefully wiping with great gentleness the numerous small cuts on the boy’s body.

“Would you get me some clean water?” he asked Carl, who had taken a seat in a chair nearby. “I’m just about finished.”

Carl sprang from the chair, took the bowl from the outstretched hand of their benefactor and quickly returned to the kitchen.

“What’s your name son?” Tyler asked his helper in a raised voice.

“It’s Carl Gilbert sir,” replied Carl as he returned with the fresh water.

“Nice to meet you Carl,” Tyler said. “I wish it could have been under better circumstances.”

“Me too,” Carl replied, reminded now of his own problems.

“Don’t worry about a thing, Carl,” Tyler said in a reassuring tone. “I appreciate your help and the kindness you’ve shown to our friend here. I’m not going to forget you.”

“Thank you sir,” Carl responded.

“See if you can find some clean clothes. Even though it’s cool, shorts would probably be easiest. A warm shirt or something similar would be good too. Then look for socks and probably cross-trainer shoes if you can find some.”

Carl turned to a dresser, then looked into a closet and quickly returned to the bed where Tyler was finishing his clean-up work.

“I found some shorts and a zip-up jacket from a jogging suit,” Carl reported. “I found some tennis shoes and low-cut socks too.”

“Perfect. He’s ready now, so let’s get him dressed.”

Tyler helped the injured youth to sit up and slipped the fleece-lined jacket over one arm, then around his back, grabbing his other arm and sticking it into the arm-hole before zipping up the front. He then lifted Nathan’s feet, one at a time, and stuck them through the leg-holes of the shorts before pulling them up to his knees. Still on the floor, Tyler inserted each foot, first into the socks, then into the shoes before tying the strings.

“You’ll need to stand now,” Tyler said grasping the upper arms of the sitting boy.

Tyler lifted Nathan by his arms, and held him as Carl pulled the shorts up around the boy’s waist.

“We’re ready now son,” Tyler informed the weaving youth. “By the way, what’s your name?”

“It’s Nathan. Nathan Mankowitz,” he responded with labored breath.

“Well Nathan, we’re gonna get you fixed up,” Tyler declared. “Carl would you get the door and the lights, then lock up?”

“Sure sir,” Carl replied.

“We’re getting to know each other too well now for that title,” Tyler said as he helped Nathan toward the open apartment door. “My name is Tyler. Tyler Turner.”

An hour later

Tyler and Carl stood as the doctor from the quick-care facility walked out into the waiting area.

“Mr. Turner,” the doctor began. “I’ve some good news. Your friend Nathan is going to be fine. We gave him some painkiller, and put some liquid stitches on the cuts to make sure they heal properly, but other than being very sore for a few days, I think he’ll be able to completely recover.”

“That’s good,” Tyler said with relief. “Did you check him for internal injuries?”

“Yes,” the doctor replied. “Besides the physical examination, we took some x-rays and a urine sample. Nothing is broken, and the sample was clear. His left leg is badly bruised and his testicles are injured and swollen. Even though it had to hurt like hell when they were injured, they’re pretty tough organs and should be fine in 4 or 5 days. He’s not going to feel like walking until then,” the doctor said with a grin. “His face is pretty beat-up, but the damage is superficial. Here are two prescriptions. One is for pain medication and the other is an antibiotic that should eliminate any chance of infection.”

“Thank you Doctor,” Tyler said as he took the prescriptions. “If Nathan is ready to leave, I’ll take care of the costs, then we’ll go.”

“You’re welcome Mr. Turner. See that lady over there to take care of the bill,” he said pointing. “I’ll have the nurse bring the young man out. We’ll bring him out in a wheelchair, as he’s still pretty wobbly. You can drive your car right up to the door. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight Doctor,” Tyler said as he stepped toward the lady the doctor had pointed out, reaching for his wallet. Carl walked beside him to the window of the office where the lady worked. Tyler gave the name of the patient, paid the bill with his credit card and had just received the receipts when Nathan came out from the examination area pushed by a nurse in a wheelchair.

“Ready to go?” Tyler asked with a smile at the approaching youth.

“Yeah and thanks,” the obviously relieved youth said with a small broken smile.

“I’ll get the car,” Tyler announced as he headed for the door. “Wait for a minute before you come out. Carl, stay with Nathan.”

“Okay,” Carl agreed.

A minute later the rental car arrived at the door and quickly both boys were within. Before he drove off Tyler turned to the two young guys.

“I’m staying at a motel near downtown,” Tyler announced. “I think that it would be better if I got the two of you a room. In the morning we can decide our next course of action.”

“I can go home,” Nathan argued.

“Not a chance,” Tyler replied. “We’ll go by there and get you some clothes, but you’re not up to taking care of yourself yet, and may not be for two or three days. Tomorrow you’re going to be very sore and swollen. I doubt that you’ll be able to get out of bed without help. Our first stop will be back to your apartment, then we’ll get your prescriptions filled, get some take-out from a fast food joint, then to the motel.”

“I guess I have no say in it then,” Nathan said with resignation.

“That’s right,” Tyler said. “If you feel better tomorrow, then we’ll see.”

Tyler pulled away from the curb, and began driving to complete their rounds.

An hour and a half later

 The errands had been completed and Tyler had acquired a second room adjoining his own at the motel. The room was furnished with two queen-sized beds. After they had eaten the food they’d picked up, Tyler and Carl helped Nathan into bed and he quickly fell asleep.

"Would you come into my room Carl? Tyler asked. “I’d like to talk to you.”

"Sure Tyler,” Carl answered his benefactor. He wasn’t sure what Tyler wanted, but had developed a feeling of trust toward the older man. The fact that Tyler was handsome had also not eluded his notice.

After being seated at a small table in Tyler’s room, Tyler smiled at the young man and began.

“Perhaps it’s none of my business, so you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but I’d like to hear your story.”

“I’m not sure I can tell you now, Tyler,” Carl answered in a low voice as he looked at the carpet.

“Carl,” Tyler said with compassion. “Most of us, including me, have had hard times in our lives. You have nothing to be ashamed of with me. Whatever you want to share with me will be just between us and for sure, I’ll not judge you.”

“Can I ask you a question?” Carl responded.

“You can ask me anything, and I’ll tell you the truth,” Tyler replied.

“Why are you doing all of this for us? You don’t even know us. We could be really bad people.”

“To answer that is a very long story. I’ll tell you a little of it. Some of it may surprise you, and maybe when I tell you, you’ll want to leave. That’s up to you. I can only promise you that I will never hurt you or do anything to you that you don’t want.”

“Take as long as you want,” Carl said. “I’m listening.”

“I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll begin with my early life. My mother raised me. I never knew my father as he was not married to my mother, though I found out later that he had always provided for us both. Later I looked for him, but he died before I was ever able to meet him. I went to college and studied Criminal Justice with the idea of becoming an FBI agent, a policeman, or a private detective. When I graduated, I was offered a job in California with a security company that provided bodyguards as well as a host of other security type work, such as private investigations. One job I had was to guard a wealthy man in Las Vegas who had been shot by an assailant who escaped from capture. The man that was attacked was only a little older than me. After a short time together we discovered that we were brothers. We had the same father!

“Wow!” Carl responded, “That must have been some surprise!”

“Yes, it was,” Tyler agreed. “The man took me in and made me his business partner, but more importantly, he became my only family because by then my mother had died and both of his parents were also gone.”

“That’s quite a story,” Carl said shaking his head.

“There’s more,” Tyler continued. “We bought the company I worked for and I became its President. That’s why I’m here. We’re looking at Salt Lake City and some other western cities for expanding our operations.”

“That still doesn’t answer my question,” Carl reminded.

“No it doesn’t,” Tyler admitted. “My brother, whose name is Ron Turner, is an unusual person. He is a successful and astute businessman, but that’s not why he’s unusual. What I found in my brother is a man who has a heart of gold. He is uncommonly generous, not only with his money, but with his time and interests. He loves people and he loves to help people, especially those whose misfortune has overtaken them. His main interest is helping young people who are homeless. We built a facility in Las Vegas to house a certain type of those guys.”

“I guess you lost me there,” Carl said. “I’m not sure what you mean by a certain type of those guys.”

“Our facility there,” Tyler explained, “is for homeless gay youths.”

“Oh!” Carl said in surprise. “Why did you decide to do that? …I mean specialize in gay boys?”

“I guess it’s mostly because we saw a need. In the normal shelters for young people, gay boys are often abused by the other ‘guests’ and have a more difficult time making their way in a world dominated by straight people. The second reason,” Tyler responded, “is because we’re both gay ourselves.”

“Oh man!” Carl said. “I never knew that there was such a place, or that there were very many gay guys. I mean… just never met any.”

“I hope you don’t feel uncomfortable around me now. If you do, I understand, but I’ll repeat what I said before, that I won’t do anything to harm you or anything you don’t want.”

“No, I feel okay,” replied Carl. “I just never knew that there were other people around like me.”

“You’re gay?” Tyler asked.

“Yes, I think so,” Carl said carefully. “I know I like boys better than girls, but I never had any contact with any gay ones and I never had sex with anyone…. except for last night.”

“What happened last night?” Tyler asked.

“I touched a guy and did some stuff with a guy that was asleep in the same bed that I was in.”

“What happened?” Tyler asked again.

“I got caught and got thrown out of the house,” Carl said with his eyes beginning to fill with tears. “That’s why I’m out on the street.”

“You got thrown out by your family?” Tyler questioned.

“Yes and no. It’s more complicated than that,” Carl responded. “I guess I can tell you, but it will take a little time.”

“ I’m listening,” Tyler said with sympathy.

“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain without going back to when I was a kid.”

Tyler smiled. “We’ve got all night.”

“Well,” Carl began his tale, “I was raised in a small town in southern Utah, called Colorado City….”

Carl told his story to the rapt attention of his listener. 30 minutes later Carl finished with: “….and that’s how I came to be behind the dumpster in the alley. You know the rest.”

Carl wiped his eyes and blew his nose with some tissues that Tyler had retrieved earlier from his bathroom. Carl’s eyes were downcast as he finished his story and his expression reflected his despair.

Tyler took the youth into his arms. Carl, releasing the emotions he had held in check for the past week, sobbed, soaking Tyler’s shirt with tears. Tyler held the youth, slowly rubbing his back as he wept.

“Carl, don’t worry,” Tyler said softy. “We’ll help you. The worst is over.”

Carl sniffed, pulled away looking at Tyler. “You and your brother will help me?” he asked.

“Yes, and our loving partners, Dan and Matt too.”

“You have a partner?” Carl asked in surprised.

“Why? Do you think I’m too ugly to have a lover?” Tyler kidded, noticing that the bulge in Carl’s trousers indicated otherwise.

“No, no,” Carl quickly said, afraid that he’d offended Tyler. “I mean, … I guess … I don’t know. I don’t know anything! In Colorado City we were pretty much isolated from everything and only knew what we were taught. I know now that much of it was wrong. I’m just lost. I couldn’t let myself look at boys, even though I wanted to. I was sure that I’d be punished and forced to leave my friends and family. This is all so new. I mean, here I’ve met a guy who is not only gay and admits it, but has a real partner, and is proud of being in love with another man. It’s too much for me to comprehend.”

“I’m just joking about the ugly part,” Tyler said with a smile. “I guess that I should warn you though; being gay publicly is still not accepted by many people. Look what happened to Nathan. I don’t want to scare you, but it truly can be unsafe. You just want to be careful as to who you tell. Even people who won’t attack you physically, may reject you. It’s unfortunate but it’s true.

“Yeah, I agree,” stated Carl. “I got thrown out of the FLDS ‘reject’ house they call ‘The Sanctuary’ because I’m gay.”

“That may be the primary reason, but there may be a further reason,” Tyler said.

“Oh?” Carl asked.

“Yes, even gay guys won’t appreciate being hit on without their consent. If they’re interested they’ll let you know. Even then, you should never take advantage of someone when they’re asleep, drunk or otherwise unable to fend for themselves. At best it’s a good way to lose friends. At worst, you could find yourself in Nathan’s shape.”

Carl looked down in shame.

“Do you think that’s what happened to him?”

“I have no idea,” Tyler admitted. “Perhaps.”

I guess I was wrong,” Carl confessed. “ I’d like to make an excuse, but there isn’t one that will make up for what I did.”

“It’s water under the bridge,” Tyler said with reassurance. “We learn from our mistakes. If you’re smart, and I think you are, you won’t repeat them. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad either. You need to put it past you and get on with your life.”

“What kind of life will I have?” Carl responded. “I don’t know anything except some farming and working with tools. I don’t see any of that here.”

“What kind of schooling have you completed?” Tyler asked.

“I finished high school, but I see now that it wasn’t a very good school. I can read, write, and do simple arithmetic, but beyond that I don’t know too much.”

“What kinds of work do you want?”

“I really don’t know. My dad had a repair shop and all of us boys worked there. I was pretty good at it, but I don’t know if that’s what I want to do forever. I just never thought of other possibilities. In a little town there aren’t many choices.”

“We’d like to help you if we can,” Tyler revealed. “I’ll have to talk to my family of course, before I can tell you what I have in mind, but at least I can promise you a bit of a start.”

“What do I have to do to repay you?” Carl said with a slight hint of suspicion.

“If you’re talking about sex, the answer is ‘nothing’. I am happy with my partner Dan and I’d never consider having sex with anyone else. We love each other, just like straight partners should. We’d stay together and in love even if we couldn’t have sex together. I’m sure that not all gay people feel the way we do and when you’re young, exploring your sexuality with another guy is natural. You just have to decide for yourself what’s right. I can only say that you should proceed cautiously. There’s also the problem with sexually transmitted disease. We’ll talk about precautions another time soon, but until then, I’d advise you to avoid having sex until you know what you’re doing. When we have our talk, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

“As for any other kind of repayment,” Tyler continued, “we will only ask that you do your best at whatever you do. There is no such thing as a free ride. We’ll help, but if you decide to lay back and let us pay for and do everything for you, you’ll find out quickly that the help will stop, even if it means that you’re back on the street.”

“I don’t think that you’d ever have to worry about that Tyler,” Carl responded. “I’m strong and a hard worker. I was brought up to believe that you either worked or went hungry.”

“Then I’m sure you won’t have any problems in that regard,” Tyler responded with a smile.

“What about Nathan?” Carl asked, looking at the door to the other room.

“ Truthfully I don’t know yet,” Tyler answered. “I really don’t know him and what he wants. If he’s well enough tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep, I’ll talk with him. I’m pleased though that you’ve thought of him too. It tells me that you are a young man of good character. I would like to ask you though for some help.”

“Sure, I’ll do anything,” Carl responded. “I’m not sure how much help I can be, but if I know how, or if you’ll show me, I’ll do whatever you ask.”

“Well, what I’m going to ask of you should not be too hard. Tomorrow I have some appointments that I need to keep about setting up an office for our company here in Salt Lake City. I’d like you to stay with Nathan and take care of him while I’m gone. Fortunately my first appointment is not until 9 o’clock, so hopefully we’ll have time for some breakfast and get you both settled for the day before I have to leave. I had planned to fly to Albuquerque tomorrow afternoon, but I’ll be changing that plan. I’ve already booked the rooms here for another night, so we won’t have to worry about checking out during the day tomorrow.”

“I’ll be glad to help anyway I can,” Carl said. “You know that if all this hadn’t happened, I’d be sleeping tonight behind the dumpster in that alley. You have no idea how much I appreciate your kindness.”

“I’m sure that sometime in the future, you’ll find someone else that needs help, Tyler replied. “When that happens, I want you to remember this evening. You will learn that kindness and caring is returned again and again. You’ll be surprised at the love you get back, just for showing that you care.”

“I won’t forget,” Carl said with conviction.

“Well, it’s getting late and we have a lot to do tomorrow,” Tyler said. “I think it’s time to say goodnight. Let’s go in and check on Nathan. If he has any problems during the night, feel free to wake me.”

“Alright,” Carl agreed as they both stood up and headed for the door between their rooms.

After seeing that Nathan was still sleeping soundly, Tyler again said goodnight and retreated to his own room, leaving Carl to prepare himself for sleep.

An hour earlier, Ron and Matt’s home, Las Vegas

Ron, Matt and Dan sat on the terrace overlooking the city. Their drink glasses were still nearly half-full as they chatted about the events of the weekend. Earlier, the boys had said their goodnights and gone to their rooms to sleep.

“Eddie and Douglas sure seemed to hit it off,” Dan observed aloud.

“Yeah,” Matt agreed. “Eddie sure seemed to perk up the newest member of our household.”

“For sure,” Dan replied back. “Those two were not out of each other’s sight all day. I thought Douglas was going to cry when Eddie had to go back to Thornton.”

“Yes, there was an instant attachment,” Ron said, joining into the conversation. “I know they enjoyed each other’s company, but I’m sure it was more than that. It seemed that there was some kind of silent communication between them, some kind of emotional attachment.”

“Do you think it might be love?” Dan asked.

“That’s hard to say,” answered Ron. “It’s possible. They looked so at ease with each other, it’s almost like they had known each other for years. Kind of like slipping on an old pair of comfortable shoes.”

“I noticed that too,” Matt agreed. “I’m so used to seeing young guys with boundless energy and raging hormones that it seems uncanny that they were so calm with each other.”

“Well, whether they just develop a good friendship, or perhaps more,” Ron put forth, “I, for one, would encourage them. Eddie is such a nice young man and Douglas needs someone like him for a friend.”

“I think I’d better go on over to our place,” said Dan finishing his drink. “Tyler should be calling soon. He’s probably just sitting in his room kicking back after the trip.”

“I’ll take your glass,” Matt offered. “We’ll see you in the morning then.”

“Goodnight Dan,” Ron added.

“G’night guys,” Dan replied as he reentered the house and headed for the door leading to the pool deck and the guesthouse that he, Tyler and Jerry called home.

“Tyler sure picked a winner when he found Dan,” Matt said with a smile.

“Yeah, he’s almost as good a ‘picker’ as me,” Ron grinned.

“You’re just saying that ‘cause you’re horny tonight,” Matt said, only half kidding.

“That too,” admitted Ron. “ I’m guilty on all counts. I have to admit though that tonight I have a powerful itch that needs scratchin’.”

“I guess that we’d better go in then,” Matt said with an inviting look. “I’m sure we could find some kind of cure for that in our room.”

“Mmmmmm,” Ron agreed.

                                    *                      *                      *

30 minutes later in the guesthouse.

The ringer on the telephone, began its loud message, but was cut short by Dan quickly picking up the receiver. He didn’t want the jangling to awaken Jerry and had stationed himself nearby, reading a book.

“This is Dan,” he answered.

“Hi Babe,” Tyler responded. “I’m here safe and sound. How was your day?”

“It was good hon, Dan answered. “The four boys had a great time together, especially Douglas and Eddie.”

“Yeah, it looked that way before I left.”

"I’m sure missing you,” said Dan sadly. “We’ve not been apart much since I came to Las Vegas. The bed seems empty knowing that you won’t be filling your side tonight.”

“Guess I’ll have to make up for that when I get back,” Tyler said with a leer in his voice.

“Sounds delightful!” Dan responded with enthusiasm. “How was your flight? Did you have any problems getting your motel room?”

“The flight was great, as usual. As for the room, …there was a mishap that occurred in the process. …I need to talk to you.”

“I hope it’s not bad,” Dan responded with worry in his voice.

“No, it’s not all bad,” Tyler said. “Let me tell you about it. It seems that on the way to the motel I got lost….”

                                    *            *            *            *            *